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Empathic abilities and their mediators in Tunisian psychiatry trainees

Bochra Nourhene Saguem (Department of Psychiatry, Farhat Hached University Hospital, Sousse, Tunisia, and Faculty of Medicine of Sousse, University of Sousse, Sousse, Tunisia)
Zeineb Bouzaâbia (Department of Psychiatry, Farhat Hached University Hospital, Sousse, Tunisia, and Faculty of Medicine of Sousse, University of Sousse, Sousse, Tunisia)
Amel Braham (Department of Psychiatry, Farhat Hached University Hospital, Sousse, Tunisia, and Faculty of Medicine of Sousse, University of Sousse, Sousse, Tunisia)
Selma Ben Nasr (Department of Psychiatry, Farhat Hached University Hospital, Sousse, Tunisia, and Faculty of Medicine of Sousse, University of Sousse, Sousse, Tunisia)

The Journal of Mental Health Training, Education and Practice

ISSN: 1755-6228

Article publication date: 12 November 2020

Issue publication date: 12 November 2020

86

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper was to assess empathy dimensions in Tunisian psychiatry trainees and to evaluate their relationship with relevant professional and extra-professional factors.

Design/methodology/approach

An online questionnaire survey was administered to the psychiatry trainees affiliated in the four faculties of medicine of Tunisia (n = 120). It comprised, in addition to sociodemographic and professional variables, the interpersonal reactivity index, a multidimensional instrument that evaluates perspective taking, empathic concern, personal distress and fantasy. Other self-report measures were used to assess emotion regulation, social support and self-efficacy. Data were analyzed using Statistical Package for Social Sciences.

Findings

The response rate was 71%. Descriptive statistics showed that personal distress’ scores were lower than the other empathy dimensions’ scores. Perspective taking scores were negatively correlated with emotion regulation difficulties. Personal distress scores were positively correlated with emotion regulation difficulties. Hierarchical regression analysis revealed that being an only child significantly contributed to perspective taking and having an extra-professional activity significantly contributed to less personal distress. Perceived stress, social support and having a master’s degree were significant predictors for empathic concern. Self-efficacy was a significant predictor of perspective taking, with emotion regulation difficulties mediating this relationship.

Practical implications

Interventions dedicated to improve psychiatry trainees’ empathy should focus not only on clinical practice and medical education but also on emotional support and recovery activities.

Originality/value

A unique feature of this study is the investigation of the potential impacts of emotion regulation difficulties and perceived self-efficacy on empathic abilities of psychiatry trainees.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors have no acknowledgments to declare.

Citation

Saguem, B.N., Bouzaâbia, Z., Braham, A. and Ben Nasr, S. (2020), "Empathic abilities and their mediators in Tunisian psychiatry trainees", The Journal of Mental Health Training, Education and Practice, Vol. 15 No. 6, pp. 317-330. https://doi.org/10.1108/JMHTEP-05-2020-0033

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2020, Emerald Publishing Limited

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